Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cats vs. dogs

My babies!

Gail Vaz-Oxlade had a blog posting today about the costs of pet ownership. While I agree wholeheartedly with most of what she said, I think that the majority of those people who are spending obscene amounts of money on their pets are dog owners.

Let me start this by saying that I love dogs. We had both dogs and cats growing up and my mom still has a dog and I know many people who have dogs. I have dog-sat and walked dogs for friends. I am a huge lover of all animals.

But dogs tend to rule their owners lives and cost a lot of money:


Have a dog professionally groomed can get expensive. The bathing, trimming of hair, cutting of nails... some of these things dog owners can do themselves, but sometimes not. With a cat, they are self-cleaning! And you don't have to worry about trimming their hair. You do have to trim a cat's claws, but that is easily done at home. I can wrestle with my 10 pound cat to get his fine little nails trimmed a lot easier than I can hack away at a large dogs thick nails... I've done both and I can see why a dog owner would want to pay to get the trimming done - it is a PITA.

And yes, cats do shed, but so do dogs!


You will rarely see a cat owner dressing up a feline. Not only will the cat not take it, but those types of people have a certain stigma (*cough* crazy cat lady *cough*). Dogs on the other hands are dressed up for every holiday under the sun and then some. I don't even want to think about the costs to buy those costumes.

I know that not all dog owners dress up their pooches all the time, but to all the dog owners out there - can you tell me that you've never purchased at least one clothing item for your dog? When we owned dogs growing up, we didn't dress them up much, but I do remember my mom buying the occasional cute item, which was then used once and forgotten about in a closet afterwards.

And even if it's not costumes, there are those who have to buy their dog shoes for walks in the winter and sweaters/coats to keep 'em warm (even though they have fur!).


Lastly, there is the amount of time that dog owners put towards their pets. I have heard countless time from my dog lovin' friends that they can't meet up or they are going to be late because they have to let the dog out, or take him for a walk or make sure the new puppy hasn't torn the house apart. (Don't even get me started on the costs of damages from puppies.)

My cats expect food at a fairly regular time, but that's about it. They have a litter box to do their business in and they don't need me to be there to hold their paw while they do it. They don't require me to walk them or take them outside at all.

I don't know about you, but the only person who runs my life is me (and maybe Husband). It doesn't feel that way for dog owners.

I will say again - I do like dogs. But am I the kind of person who would own a dog? No. But it seems that cat lovers are stuck with a certain negative stigma, yet dog lovers are the ones who often go a little crazy with the amount of time and money they put into their pets. I am in no way saying don't own a dog because that's your choice. If you have the finances to back it up, go right ahead. My issue is when people let their dogs run their lives and rack up their credit cards. Or when people laugh at cat owners, yet there are dogs being carted around in purses, spending a day at the groomers or perusing their wardrobe.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March Goals - Update

I have been cruising along on the goals this month! Here's the mid-month update:
  • Lose 5 lbs. On track! I've lost 2-3 pounds so far this month and I've lost 10 pounds in total since January!
  • Put $500 towards our foundation savings goal. DONE! We have put aside $3,302 thanks to our tax refunds! As long as we put aside our allotted $500 each month from now until June, we will easily meet our goal. This also frees up my freelance income which I had earmarked for the foundation and we won't have to use our home repair fund. (I know that this is what we have the fund for, but I'd rather keep saving than have to use it so soon after buying the house.)
  • Complete two freelance interviews (and articles, depending on when the interview falls). I have been calling and emailing and still no luck. The deadline is very quickly approaching, so the time to threaten has begun!
  • Buy new runners. DONE! My goal was to spend $150 before taxes and the before tax price was $145. My old runners have been retired to the closet and I'll just pull them out when we go on vacations.
  • Install new shower head.  DONE! I'll be curious to see if our water bill goes down thanks to the new low-flow shower head.
  • Complete Husband's taxes. DONE! And we have already gotten back both refunds.
  • Buy and install new kitchen faucet. We have purchased the faucet, but it's not yet installed. I'm hoping I can get Husband to do it this weekend or next. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Girls weekend at the spa

One of my best friends lives in Calgary and I live in Winnipeg, so we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. Her family is still here, so she visits once or twice a year, but when she does come in, her time is divided up between all her family and friends. So, this year we've decided to go on a girls weekend to the spa. The world-famous Temple Gardens Mineral Spa in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is about halfway between Calgary and Winnipeg, so it's the perfect venue. But even though this trip is fairly close to home, it will not be cheap.

Here's a rough estimate of the costs:

Spa treatments: $500
Hotel room for two nights: $210
Gas: $50 - $75 (I'm planning on driving out most of the way with my mom and dropping her off with family in SK, so she can visit and I'll continue on to Moose Jaw - this will help save costs and I won't have to drive alone.)
Food: $150 ($50 a day)

TOTAL: $935

Not a small amount by any means! I don't think it's fair to take money out of our vacation fund to pay for this since Husband won't be coming, so I've been trying to put together a plan to pay for this trip strictly with extra money. Here's how I'll pay for it:

Allowance money: $100  (I've been putting aside a bit of money each month from my allowance.)
Selling items: $200  (So far I've sold some of my old TV shows/movies on DVD and an old watch that an ex-boyfriend gave to me.)
Overtime: $400  (We shot our new TV commercial this past weekend and I've asked to be paid out for the overtime instead of time off. It's unusual for me to request the money, but right now we could use the money and I have a ton of vacation days available.)
Freelance: $200  (I'll be getting about $1,000 from freelance in April or May, so I'll use a bit of this towards the trip.)

What do you think? Have I over/underestimated some costs? 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Night Chit-Chat

What are you….

I couldn't get into One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, so I'm re-reading Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Catching up on Hart of Dixie and How I Met Your Mother re-runs.

Listening to?
How I Met Your Mother (the show is on in the background).

Avocado quesadillas and spinach salad - delish!

Happy you accomplished this last week?
Getting our taxes done! I'll be happy to see the cheques come in later this month.

Looking forward to this week?
Dinner and movies with my sister on Tuesday and then a much-needed hair cut and colour on Thursday!

Thankful for today?
New runners! I got a new pair and I'm excited to try them out! Hopefully it'll help with this foot pain that just won't go away.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pantry Challenge - Update

Husband and I did our pantry challenge for the month of January and February and while we did okay, I would say that overall this was a fail! Husband, about part way through the challenge, announced that he hated it and didn't want to do it, despite having agreed to it in the beginning and enjoying it last year.

Of course, since he does 80% of the grocery shopping without me, we didn't do so well. I would send him to the store with a very specific list of what to buy and remind him about the pantry challenge, and he would come home with random things, like nacho chips, cookies, boxes of pasta (even though we had tons!) and cans of tomatoes. He would somehow rationalize it to me and I would get annoyed, but what could I do at that point? A week later, it would happen again. Ugh! Thankfully we still brought in less packaged food than normal, so it wasn't a complete waste.

For the first month, we came in just under our normal budget of $500, but we blew it in February. Our total for January was $477.14 and we spent $637.68 in February. Towards the end we definitely started buying more packaged food as we were running out of a lot of basics, so there's definitely something to be said for buying fresh food.

On the bright side, I'm happy that our pantry is a little less chaotic. There is still a lot of food in there, but we did work on getting rid of some stuff.


Husband loves his sauces and marinades, so those take up an entire shelf on their own!

I really should make some banana bread with all those frozen bananas!


You can see the difference mostly on the two middle shelves. And since this photo was taken, we donated a few items for a food drive my office is doing right now.

The freezer looks really full, but Husband made a ton of food and divided up for quick, easy meals. We've actually already gone through all of those containers already!

I'd like to try the pantry challenge again in the summer when Husband may be more keen due to the better selection of fresh produce.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thank you tax man!

I am happily shocked to say that my tax refund is about $2,750! Normally I get a refund anywhere from $750 to $1,500, but this year was especially good! It's partly because of the house purchase (first time home buyer credit) and I didn't make as much in freelance last year, so I didn't have to pay much in taxes for that. Whatever the reasons though, I will take it!

With this pleasant surprise, we won't have to dip into our home repair fund for the foundation work this summer. I know that it's what we have it for, but I was worried that if we used it right after buying the house, we would be at a disadvantage should anything else go wrong. I'd like to get it built up more before we dip into it.

Husband can now do his taxes and I'm hoping he gets anywhere between $500 to $1,000. Keep your fingers crossed!

As well, I found out that while my workplace pays for my schooling, I can still claim the months I was in school, which I didn't do in 2010 or 2011. So I've sent off a letter to Canada Revenue Agency asking them to adjust accordingly. Hopefully I will get a little bit of money back for that too.